Following my ‘Best Male’ blogger award win in April (still can’t believe it!), the next step was to claim my prize – a hike over the O2 Arena in London for me and three friends.
After finally sorting a date, two good friends, my better half and I ventured into North Greenwich last week to take on the hike.
Upon arrival in London Euston, things weren’t looking good. The sky was dark grey, and it had been raining on and off all day. But after surfacing from the tube at North Greenwich, the clouds began to lose their grey colour, turn a much more promising shade of white, and began to break. It seemed luck was on our side in South West London.
Once we had checked in, we signed a disclaimer form (standard) and were given a safety briefing at O2 Base Camp by our Climb Guide, Carolina. The briefing clearly stated that all climbers should not hike over the arena under the influence of alchohol.
We looked sheepishly at each other. 15 minutes earlier we went for a quick cocktail to celebrate my award win….
We kept quiet, and soon headed into the kit room, ready to don our harnesses, safety jacket (it was far too warm for the onesie) and climbing shoes.
Once all the kit was on, we attached our last karabina, along with a clever contraction that would attach our main harness to the walkway. It was particularly heavy, and also got in the way as it dangled between our legs when we walked (!). Naturally there was no harm in having a game of human conkers to make sure all the equipment worked correctly.
We secured our valuables in a locker and headed outside – into broken sunshine!
One by one, Carolina gave us all a last safety check to ensure our harness was as tight and comfortable as possible. We were at the back of the queue, so Mark and I had time for a last minute stretching session.
We made our way up the stairs to the start of the hike. Whilst Carolina was explaining how our equipment worked, I was multi-tasking – listening intently, and taking photos of what was now a fantastic London evening sky.
One by one, our group attached themselves to the walkway, and we began the hike in single file.
No bulky cameras are allowed on the hike. There is only a small zipped pocket in the safety jackets for a smartphone. This was perfect for me, because all my photography is taken using my iPhone (and Camera+). We were told that phones should only be used on the viewing platform to take pictures, tweet, and share pictures on Facebook. Why MySpace didn’t get a mention I’ll never know.
But all too often, the opportunity for a great photo can present itself when you least expect it. So don’t tell the Up At the O2 Team, but being at the back of the group meant we could get some great shots looking back over South West London.
After a quick 15-minute hike, we made it to the viewing platform. The sun was bursting through the clouds over Canary Wharf, making lighting conditions perfect for some great shots.
With a few group shots and several selfies stored on the iPhone, it was soon time to head back down the other side of the O2 Arena, under the drone of aeroplanes taking off from London City airport.
Again we were at the back, and again my phone remained in my pocket throughout, because there were no opportunities for a great photo. None. Whatsoever.
The steepness of the canvas on the way down was perfect training for our 24 Peaks challenge, but the descent didn’t last long. 15 minutes later, all the group had made it safely to the bottom.
All that was left was to thank Carolina, our great Climb Guide, take a quick group selfie, and drop back off the equipment.
The hike is not particularly challenging, so if you’re ever stuck for something to do in London, I would definitely recommend it.
There are official photographs provided in the shop at the end, as well as a chance to give some feedback on your experience. ‘What other activities could we include to enhance your experience?‘ was the question. ‘Construct a James Bond slide‘ was my answer.
Thanks again to lowcostholidays for hosting the Blogger Awards, and for my prize of hiking over the O2. As you can tell my the photos, we had a great time! 🙂